1. What is a cBook?
A cBook is half film, half book – a ‘best of both’ product that allows the reader/viewer into the inner thoughts, backstory and motivations of the characters whilst also allowing them to directly see and hear those characters and the story locations.
The way we put together Monsoon Tide was as follows: Each 3-5 page chapter is followed by a 3-5 minute film clip. The story is propelled forward in both the written and film form. 15 chapters and 15 clips later, the reader has had a total story experience in about two hours, akin to having read a 300-page novel.
This format has worked for us, but like both films and books (which can be of widely differing lengths) it is by no means prescriptive. Shorter and longer cBooks could be made and the length of the chapters or clips could also be longer or shorter. A cBook can be experienced in one continuous reading/viewing, or a few sections at a time. It depends on the preference of the cBook reader.
2. What prompted you to develop the concept?
Initially when rehearsing the film and working on some of the back stories with the actors, we thought it would be great if we could find a mechanism that would allow the audience to access that additional insight into the characters.
A second factor was the disappointment we had experienced when watching film adaptations of books. Whilst some achieve the crossover with success, others seem to lose the essence of the original story. We felt that the cBook, which allowed the audience/ reader access to a character’s innermost thoughts would give a more rounded experience.
We also felt there was a gap in the market. E-books are currently losing out to traditional books but this is (in our view) because they are just replicating conventional books in a downloadable format. E-books have access to multi-media and the cBook is a great way to exploit this and develop new audiences. In this ever changing (and time-poor) world some would-be readers are put off reading weighty novels by the sheer investment in time it takes. Younger readers especially might require such a device to kick-start them into the world of literature – a device that rewards the reader after every few pages of prose with a visual treat. English teachers that we have consulted are very enthusiastic about this product as they see the potential for coaxing the ‘reading averse’ and the ‘low attention span’ students onto the first rungs of the literary ladder.
3. Why should I make a cBook version of my film?
Since the loss of DVD as an important independent feature film sales outlet, the industry has been searching for a new sales platform. Internet sites dedicated to selling films by download have faced an uphill battle, with many pirate sites and some customers who feel that films should be free to download. Digital e-books maintain a platform where the customer still expects to pay reasonable money to acquire a good book. Although we have secured sales for our film Monsoon Tide, the cBook gives another income stream while promoting the film at the same time. Win-win!
4. How do I go about getting my film established as a cBook? Who writes it?
First, you have to judge whether the subject matter and format of your film would lend itself to becoming a cBook. Monsoon Tide is a complex, character-driven story that benefits from the cBook treatment. Other genres such as action movies might not be suitable. We think cBooks would work very well for children’s stories and also for documentaries.
If you have an existing film that you would like to adapt then as long as you have all the rights tied down , i.e. ‘All rights in all media, known or unknown in perpetuity’ then it is a case of finding a writer for the book part. This might be the original screenwriter or someone else, but we think it is important that the person works with the original screenwriter to maintain the essence and integrity of the story. Film-makers are natural collaborators so this should not pose a problem. In the case of Monsoon Tide, Elsa Evripidou who worked as one of the film’s producers and as the Script Editor, wrote the narrative with feedback from the film’s screenwriter, Nick Fletcher. We selected the film clips we used based on what we felt to be some of the strongest and visually affecting scenes, but also with an eye to the pacing and natural breaks in the story.
We will be giving further tips and personal insights in our blog on how to create a cBook.
5. Which publisher do you use for the book?
We used Gatekeeper Press because we felt confident that they could deal with the technical issues involved with this product. They got the idea quickly and became genuinely engaged with it. They can also help with editing from developmental all the way to final proofing. Also, their responses to our needs and enquiries were pretty much instantaneous. We are based in the U.K., working British time but it surprised us how many times Rob Price of Gatekeeper responded right away to emails in the wee small hours of the morning States time… the man must be a workaholic!
6. How is the book distributed?
It is available on digital download only. The film part of the book is embedded on the ibooks and Google versions and is accessed by links on Amazon and other ebook readers.
7. How can this concept help promote film/video sales?
In the same way that there is two-way cross promotion with books that are adapted into films, we believe that there will be cross promotion between films/videos and cBooks. Although the public will see some of the film content in the cBook, they will still have to view the film to see all the content. Likewise, if you have seen the film, the cBook will give you a deeper and closer understanding of the story.
When adapting the film Monsoon Tide into the cBook format, we took the story into slightly different directions so that the cBook explores parts of the story that are only hinted at in the film. The film also contains parts of the story that are not present in the cBook, including perhaps the most iconic scene right at the end.
8. Does having a cBook preclude me from film distribution?
Not at all. We believe that the cBook can help promote the film and that sales agents and film distribution companies will view it as an additional marketing tool. It is, of course, a new concept so it may be as well to check with your sales agents or distributors before going ahead with the production of a cBook.
9. How can I promote a cBook?
This can be done inexpensively and effectively in this day and age with digital marketing techniques. We used digital marketing guru Shari Stauch from Where Writers Win, who offers a tailored service mentoring authors and teaching them how to achieve maximum exposure and awareness with minimal expenditure. We are also lucky enough to be working with Smith Publicity who found promoted the new cBook concept in all forms of media. Those who are very media savvy can use the resources on their website and others for top tips on marketing your product. If you have any existing marketing resources behind your film, you can of course use these to direct people to the cBook version of your product.